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May 16, 2007 06:07 PM

El Zarape: Going Downhill?

i have been a regular customer at this place and eat there about once a week, but have recently started becoming dissapointed in their food on occassion. it just seems like whoever is preparing the food is getting careless and just slopping everything together. at first i thought it might be because i was there during the dinner rush, but i went later in the evening and the same thing happened...big globs of sauce plunked on the fish tacos, barely any calamari in the burritos, and the house burrito tasting strangely bland, anybody else experienceing any of this? the good days are worth putting up with the occassional bad one and the salsas and cheap prices will always have me coming back, but it just kills my day when all i want is a nice fish taco and go home dissapointed.

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  1. Where is El Zarape - we have one in Santa Barbara. Is this the one you are talking about?

    1 Reply
    1. re: glbtrtr

      I am pretty sure he is talking about the one in San Diego.

      1. re: DoctorQuality

        I haven't noticed any problems yet. We usually stick with the beer-battered fish tacos, with perhaps a side of rice and beans. I'll let you know next time we go.

      2. ITA! was there Sunday night, and was very disappointed. The girl at the register kept repeating the wrong order bck to me, then argued with me when I ordered horchata. She insisted that I could get it at the soda fountain when it was clearly behind her. An out-of-town friend received his burrito with cheese and sour cream after he ordered with without (what made it comical is that (hi is vegan, wearing a t-shirt that said VEGAN in big bold letters). He asked what kind of "soy" was on the burritos, and she didn't know. The visit could have been saved by good food, instead it was bland (the beans and rice were miserably tasteless). The tortillas for both of my fish tacos were torn and cold, making it impossible to pick them up. The fish was crisp and good, but the overall experience was disappointing. My out-of-town friend was most unimpressed.

        1. I have never understood the hype over this place. They don't even serve authentico Mex food, I think they're arab/Mex. A few things aren't too bad, including the fish tacos but they're certainly not the best around. Cute place but the food? uh uh.
          The Bahia down the road on El Cajon Blvd serves better food, esp. burritos.

          5 Replies
          1. re: P Macias

            I've had too many instances of too-old shrimp at Bahia to ever make me want to go back there.

            My biggest complaint about El Zarape isn't their consistency or authenticity. My biggest problem recently has been parking. I've simply given up the last couple of times I've tried to go there. I've been using El Portal in Friars Village for fish/shrimp tacos/buritos instead. Plus their carne asada is very good. But, if you're going to complain about El Zarape's "authenticity", I suppose El Portal is even lower on the "authenticity" scale (maybe a step above "Baja Fresh").

            1. re: mikec

              Mike, I drive by El Portal almost every day and was actually going to stop in for a quick dinner before going to a meeting later on tonight. But I forgot my cell phone at work and had to go back to the office which is in the complete opposite direction of El Portal. I ate at that location before it was El Portal and it was decent if uninspired taqueria fare. How is El Portal? Worth a visit? or only if you're desparate?

              1. re: DiningDiva

                I don't think I ever went there before it was El Portal. I think their fish/shrimp tacos/burritos are as good as El Zarape (no lobster items, though...). I think their rice and beans are a little bit better than EZ. And their carne asada seemed to use much better quality meat than any other taco shop I can think of. Like I said, it isn't going to win awards for authenticity, it's definitely gringo-ized, but good quality and a nice, clean setting. Their salsa bar is pretty good as well. My wife likes their carne asada salad (with pepitos and a cilantro-based dressing).

                1. re: mikec

                  I think it's a little harsh to say it's going down hill. I think you just can't expect much when you go. I haven't been in a couple months, but used to eat there quite frequently. It's you average run of the mill quasi-mex place. Because it's been so hyped, I think people are often let down.

                  1. re: naven

                    For me, average quasi-mex equates to something like Rubio's, Baja Fresh or Fins. If that's the benchmark, then El Zarape beats those by a mile. If you're comparing them to some other (non-chain) taco shops, then by all means tell us about them. If you can tell me where to get a better lobster burrito to go, I'm all ears.

          2. I'm glad to see this thread. Reading the praises for El Zarape's fish and scallop burritos on these boards for so many years, I have always been mystified. I've tried EZ 4-5 times and have always been disappointed. The last time, the scallops in my burrito were so rubbery that I just gave up and went down El Cajon to Mama's for a falafel. I thought for the longest time that I was just simply not seeing what other people were seeing in this place....

            2 Replies
            1. re: Dr. K

              I'll agree with this. I've never had either good scallop or calamari items at EZ. The times I've ordered them, I've always harkened back to my (midwestern) mother-in-laws comment about scallops: "You mean those little white rubbery things?"... ;-)

              1. re: Dr. K

                El Zarape is one of those places you go for 1 item, and for me that item is the $.99 fish tacos. Don't even consdier the sopes...